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Friday, 17 April 2015

No Fairy Cake

We discussed before an increase in attacks by minority interest groups on those who don't conform to the new ideology on such matters as 'Gay Rights', 'Race' or 'Gender' issues, and any other such matters that certain groups consider to be 'their rights'.

So we saw both the chairman of Mozilla and the chairman of the Premier League hounded in what increasingly looks like a deliberate and long campaign of intimidation of anyone brave enough to stick up two fingers to the madness of the forced conformity of views that this fascism will inevitably lead to. Oddly, those groups who advocate killing homosexuals, locking women in the home or genital mutilation to deny women sexuality, are not attacked in this manner ... mainly because the protesters are terrified of the reaction of the bearded madmen, who come streaming out of their strongholds at the drop of a hat, threatening immediate violence to any luvvies who stand in their way.

A recent example of the cowardice of the targets is the attack on the the Christian orientated Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland, who earlier last year had the outright temerity to decline to accept an order for a cake from a customer. The reason for the refusal was that as a 'Christian' organisation they don't support 'Gay Marriages', which incidentally are also still not legal in Northern Ireland (or at least weren't at the time), and so they declined to bake a cake decorated with pro gay slogans supporting such ideas.

It gave the reason to the customer as the order request being "at odds" with its Christian beliefs, and presumably they suggested that the customer try on one of the hundreds of local bakery shops, who  would have been happy with such a commission. But in an action which suggests that this was a deliberately provocative and targeted order, the customer demanded financial compensation for the 'upset and inconvenience caused'.

They Found Another Cake Maker ...


Now as they had never done more than simply refuse the order (which is no different to them saying, 'sorry our order bookings are full for the next xx months', please try another supplier), then how the customer could have been any more inconvenienced than looking in 'Yellow Pages', and making another phone call, its hard to see. In fact had the shop simply lied, and used that excuse, then presumably the customer would have had no obvious reason to complain. So this matter lies purely on the fact that the cake was being ordered by an 'unnamed' (funny, he ~ I am assuming its a 'he' ~ can be unnamed, but the company name gets plastered over the press), 'gay activist' for a civic event in Bangor, County Down, marking 'International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia'.

Once he or they had been refused the 'modest damages for the upset and inconvenience caused', he immediately reported the matter to the Equality Commission, which presumably had little to do in Northern Ireland now that the 'troubles' have subsided, and said that after contacting the firm and its solicitors, who are robustly defending their clients, that it was to begin civil proceedings against them.

And in another example of the double standards that one side always seems to employ, the chief commissioner of the Equality Commission talked quite openly about the 'Ashers case' during the 'Gay Pride' debate in Belfast, but has since claimed he is not free to talk about it in a public debate.

Now, I am bothered by several issues here, but not the the legal rights and wrongs of the arguments ... whether either side has the law on their side, is for a court to determine. No, the issues that bother me are:

Not only is this new attempted interpretation of the law, saying that not only can't you discriminate against someone for their sexual orientation, but that you can be forced to propagandise (being forced to make products promoting a lifestyle is propagandising), on behalf of those beliefs, even when they are against your own.

I am not against 'gay rights' where that says that someone's sexual orientation is entirely their own matter, as long as it hurts no one else or infringes on no one else's rights. But taking it from the bedroom to the workplace, or demanding that others conform to the idea that homosexual behaviour is unchallengeable, is pressing against what I believe is the fundamental freedom of conscience. Just as a for instance, would a conscious objector still be allowed to not fight in a war, if this was based upon their 'Christian ideals', now that this same set of ideals is not sufficient grounds to defend against being forced to commemorate or propagandise for 'gay rights'?

These sorts of discussions open up many questions that we have discussed before, and which libertarians should be able to answer, but can't:

Q: If we say that 'equality rights', always supersede and override the rights of those people who claim that an action is against their own beliefs, where is the balance?
Q: Can you be forced by law to propagandise for practices that are against your own beliefs?
Q: Do homosexual rights trump all other rights, such as freedom of religion?
Q: Why are other groups, some of whom openly preach against homosexuality, not subject to the same pressures as Christian groups?

When minority pressure groups start hunting down 'soft targets' such as cake shops, where is the bottom line? Will they start picketing individuals homes, harassing their children, sending hate mail, trolling on social media? ..... Just where does it legitimately end?

Its a very disturbing trend that does nothing for equal rights, and seems very like the sort of thought fascism that holds Islamic countries in thrall. It feels as though the very idea of freedom of conscience appears to be under severe threat with this 'unequal' rights legislation.

5 comments:

  1. How does this case differ from racial discrimination ? Let's try it :

    I am not against 'black rights' where that says that someone's skin orientation is entirely their own matter, as long as it hurts no one else or infringes on no one else's rights. But taking it from the home to the workplace, or demanding that others conform to the idea that skin colour is unchallengeable, is pressing against what I believe is the fundamental freedom of conscience. 

    Like you I don't agree with these tactics, it's bullying and heavy handed; I think that the customer should just go elsewhere and hopefully such Christian businesses will suffer for their dogma in the same way they would if they also refused to serve people of colour.

    Q: If we say that 'equality rights', always supersede and override the rights of those people who claim that an action is against their own beliefs, where is the balance? 
    A. This is always a difficult question.
    Q: Can you be forced by law to propagandise for practices that are against your own beliefs?
    A. Apparently so, as long as it's not against the law. Printers must constantly negotiate this; Justin Beiber concert posters, BNP flyers, etc If you choose to go into business with the public you have to take the good with the bad. I think that in general undesired business is refused all the time but this case is a deliberate ploy.
    Q: Do homosexual rights trump all other rights, such as freedom of religion? 
    A. Being born a certain way should certainly trump which club you choose to join.
    Q: Why are other groups, some of whom openly preach against homosexuality, not subject to the same pressures as Christian groups?
    A. As you pointed out, they're easier targets, just as gays are easier to discriminate against than other minorities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one said its any easy question to resolve ..... if it was, the issue wouldn't keep reappearing. Just one point that may have eluded you in this story. In Northern Ireland 'Gay Marriages', are or were at the time of the events not legal. So they were being asked to promote something that is or was illegal in that part of the UK. So refusal was presumably a legal act? Well no doubt the courts will decide.

      Finally as this is my last post on this issue for at least a while, I guess where we fall on each of these questions is where each of us think the state has the right or obligation to force conformity of conscience or action via laws. There are many aspects of Islam as its now increasingly being practised, which I abhor, and law or no law, I wouldn't do anything to propagandise on behalf of it, even if its classed as cultural and so not technically illegal. Oddly its hypocritical views on homosexuality (considering how widespread it is in Islamic countries), are one of those aspects. Where were the protests in the UK by either Muslims or 'Gay Groups' about this?

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    2. I was aware that Gay Marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland but I'm sure it's not illegal to talk about it or campaign for it.

      I think that in this case you've chosen a very bad example of conformity of conscience as the religious view that to be gay is bad is nothing more than prejudice and indefensable. Also, by choosing to serve the public, business owners are making their private consciences public so they should expect to have to justify it if challenged. Businesses are subject to much regulation to ensure minimum standards of health and security; an owner of a large department store cannot refuse to install smoke detectors and fire exits because his conscience does not allow it.

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    3. 'it's not illegal to talk about it or campaign for it.' ....true enough, but does that mean that you can also force others to do so as well? Similarly, its not a health and safety issue like a smoke detector ... but rather one of conscience or prejudice if that's how you choose to consider it.

      Like I said earlier, this is an issue where each of us thinks differently about whether the state has the right or obligation to force conformity of conscience or action via laws. An interesting debate, but one that ultimately is increasingly be taken out of our hands, and in to those of the courts.

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    4. No, I don't think that one should be able to force others to print what they don't want to. The complainants are using this law to highlight prejudice in the same way that religions use another law to sustain it. They're both wrong but religion started it! ;-)

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